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Faculty Hires Announced for Race, Indigeneity, Gender & Sexuality Studies

April 8, 2016

How can we be a college that addresses societal challenges, prepares students to live and work globally, and educates and empowers them to create intellectual and social transformation? More importantly, how can we do this without diversity in our student and faculty ranks? Short answer: We can't.

The Race, Indigeneity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Initiative (RIGS) in CLA seeks to address these challenges. Proposed and developed by faculty from African American & African; American; American Indian; Asian American; Chicano & Latino; and Gender, Women & Sexuality studies, RIGS is in its first year under the leadership of Professor Catherine Squires.

Among RIGS's priorities has been hiring four faculty positions in RIGS disciplines and in fall of 2016 we will welcome four new colleagues. 

Portrait: Karen Davalos

Dr. Karen Mary Davalos will join Minnesota as Professor in the Department of Chican@ & Latin@ Studies. Dr. Davalos is a cultural anthropologist and an internationally renowned scholar of Chican@ Art. Her work focuses on questions of indigeneity, gender, and belonging in the context of injustice, historical erasure, trauma, and resistance. Dr. Davalos is launching an exciting collaborative and interdisciplinary project, Xican@ Art Since 1848. Through this initiative, she plans to produce the first definitive, color monograph on Mexican-heritage artists living in the United States since the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.




Portrait: Juliana Hu Pegues

Dr. Juliana Hu-Pegues will be Assistant Professor in the Department of American Indian Studies, with joint appointments with the Departments of Asian American Studies and Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies. Dr. Hu-Pegues earned her PhD in American studies from the University of Minnesota and was an assistant professor at Smith College. She is currently working on Settler Space and Time, a book that examines the comparative and contingent racialization and gendering of Native and Asian peoples in territorial Alaska.




Portrait: Gabriela Spears-Rico

Dr. Gabriela Spears-Rico will join Dr. Davalos in the Department of Chican@ & Latin@ Studies, as Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of American Indian Studies. A P’urhepecha scholar and poet, Dr. Spears-Rico’s BA is from Stanford University and earned her PhD in comparative ethnic studies from the University of California at Berkeley. Her work examines the contested terrain of representation and the dynamics of cultural appropriation within mestiz@/indigenous relations in Mexico. She is currently working on Commodifying P’urhepechecidad: Mestiza/o Melancholia and the Legacy of Rape and Conquest in Michoacán, a book that explores how gendered violence has framed the racialization of indigenous people and the manufacturing of mestizaje in Mexico.




Portrait: Terrion Williamson

Dr. Terrion Williamson will join the Department of African American & African Studies, with joint appointments with the Departments of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies and American Studies. Dr. Williamson earned her PhD in American studies at the University of Southern California in 2011. Prior to that, she earned her JD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In addition to publishing many articles and book chapters, Dr. Williamson’s first book, Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and the Making of Black Social Life, will come out with Fordham University Press in the fall. The book considers discourses and cultural histories of black women within a range of literary and cultural texts, from the work of Toni Morrison, to reality television, to newspapers.




Why four new hires? "Cluster" hiring efforts create intellectual vibrancy, productivity, and community in ways that exceed what can be achieved by individual hires. New faculty may work in any RIGS discipline. CLA is simply looking for the most innovative people. And having faculty whose background and research interests intersect with those of students makes it likelier that those students will come here, stay, and flourish.

The RIGS hires are expected to help CLA students better engage with the critical issues of our time. "When social movements like Black Lives Matter or transgender rights come to the forefront of public debate, people shouldn't be so surprised," says Professor Squires. "We want our students to be ahead of these issues, to have deeper understandings, not knee-jerk reactions."